India’s Generosity Difficult To Understand How long will India live in denial about Pakistan’s anti-India DNA?
The killing of Sarabjit Singh at the hands of fellow prisoners in the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore has exposed the irresponsible and casual attitude of the Indian government. Even as we denounce the brutal mindset of the Pakistani government, the congress led UPA govt. is equally answerable for the tragedy. The apprehension expressed by Sarabjit in his letters to his family that he was facing threats after the hanging of Afzal Guru in India, should have been taken seriously by New Delhi. His family had been pleading with the union government to bring him back but it took its own time-and this is the result. Of late, we find India being beaten by its neighbours on various fronts. It is a tragedy that a country which has ideas of becoming a superpower remains a mute spectator to insults and intimidation. Indeed, the heinous attack on Sarabjit Singh is a blow not only to our foreign policy but also the efficacy of our policy makers who manage such issues.
Clearly, the attack on Sarabjit was Pakistan’s way of retaliating to the execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru, though no reasonable quarters can equate the case of Sarabjit with that of Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist nabbed live while shooting up India’s in Mumbai. Although there was conclusive proof of Ajmal Kasab’s role in the 26/11 attacks, India spent crores on his safety while he was on trial. Whereas Pakistan could not provide safety to an Indian prisoner on whose guilt a shadow a doubt always lingered. Sarabjit’s case was allegedly one of mistaken identity. Pakistani judiciary never cleared the doubt. Although India has already increased security for Pakistani prisoners lodged in its own Jails, its efforts to prevail over Islamabad goes to show how weak kneed and pathetic it is taken by its cussed neighbour.
Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believes in making big gestures to Pakistan. Despite the utterly horrifying attack on the Indian death row prisoner, Kapil Sibal says the dialogue must go on. In the past too when two gallant Indian soldiers were subjected to barbarities by Pakistani soldiers, our foreign Minister too had stated that the peace process could not be halted. Mr. Singh’s capitulation to Pakistan on the issue of terrorism is nothing new, notwithstanding the fact that the neighbouring country has made double dealing its statesmanship. Time and again India has extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan but the latter has always played a dual game. While it has professed friendship superficially, it has sponsored terror in our country. Such politicians fail to understand that Pakistani Army and its spy agency draw the wrong lessons from such an effete response thus becoming more cussed in their attitude towards India. This is what has happened now.
In the past too, Mr. Singh has demonstrated a similar eagerness to please Pakistan at India’s expense. Recall his shocking declaration at Havana that Pakistan, the perpetrator of cross border Jihad, is as much a victim of terrorism as India. On that occasion he had agreed to set up a joint body to combat terrorism, which thankfully has proved to be a non starter. In 2009, Mr. Singh managed to alienate senior ministers in his own cabinet when he signed a controversial joint statement with Mr. Gilani in Sharam-el-Sheikh in Egypt which made the Indian govt. look like it was soft on terror, only months after the Mumbai attack. There is nothing accidental about all this, it’s by design. Foreign policy under the UPA has been reduced to pandering to the Pakistanis, regardless of consequences. It is time Mr. Singh learnt from his mistakes.
In fact, Sarabjit Singh’s saga unveils a sordid story of many unfortunates who continue to languish in Pakistani Jails for no fault of theirs. It was for the sustained campaign of his sister Dalbir Kaur that the case hogged the spot-light otherwise his death would have gone as unnoticed as that of his fellow Indian inmate Chambail Singh. As recently as last year an elderly Pak scientist was set free by India after he had spent 20 years in prison for murder. And an Indian govt. that cared for Sarabjit could have surely cited Khalil Chisti’s case to secure freedom for him.
Now that Sarabjit Singh is dead, PM has hailed him as a “brave son of India”. But in his lifetime, the govt. didn’t do enough to ask for a retrial. It has rushed to bring back the body in a special plane, announce financial assistance for the victim’s family and give him a state funeral. If such sensitivity had been shown in his lifetime, he would have escaped the fatal attack that took his life. Why did the successive governments remain indifferent to his plight for 20 years?
Not only the present UPA govt. but also the earlier NDA govt. failed to effectively take up the matter with international agencies or urge them to pressure Pakistan into releasing him. The question of Sarabjit’s innocence should have been raised at the international level.
Now, with elections round the corner, all political parties are battling to score as much points as possible. Resolutions on Sarabjit have been adopted in both Houses of Parliament and the principal opposition party, the BJP has also demanded scaling down of ties with Pakistan as well as recall of India’s High Commissioner from Islamabad. New Delhi would do well to avoid such Jingoistic Knee jerk reactions and instead goad Pakistani authorities to take stern action against the perpetrators of the crime. Let Sarabjit’s death usher in an opportunity to explore the possibility of swapping prisoners, at least those who deserve mercy and compassion.
So what makes Dr. Singh so generous? Perhaps he is hell bent upon making peace with Pakistan a legacy of his era as a PM of the country. It is almost like what Jawaharlal Nehru did with his china policy only to be repaid in the form of a military attack by China in 1962. India lost face then and will pay a heavy price now for Mr. Singh’s penchant for meek diplomacy.
Pakistan’s militant groups and their official sponsors will take comfort in the view that India remains too weak to exert any pressure on activities inside their borders. Even now, no one in India expects Sarabjit’s death to make much difference to Pakistan’s lackadaisical prosecution of terror emanating from its soil. In fact, the attack on Sarabjit could most certainly not have taken place without the active connivance of agencies that are a part of Pakistan’s political scene. It also shows the hatred Pakistan still harbours towards India. It would be futile for India to pursue a policy of appeasement towards Pakistan. The bottom line is clear – Pakistan needs to show its sincerity towards scuttling anti-India elements on its soil .
By Sunita Vakil